Saturday, December 19, 2009

Chocolate Pinecone Cake and How-to

This week I got to do a wedding cake that had sugared pine cones on it. It was based on a design from MS weddings, but the original cake had real pine cones and pine needles, which just made me think "eeeew" to myself.







I made the cones and needles out of chocolate, and I wanted to share the method that I used, since it gave a more realistic pine cone than the methods I've seen before. This is the finished cake...The icing was a pale ice blue with bands of blue chocolate at the base of the tiers.





When I see tutorials on how to make pine cones, they always start with making a cone shape out of fondant or marzipan, then sticking slivered almonds into the cone. If you look at a real pine cone, though, that isn't how they're shaped. The scales, which are the "leaves" so to speak, are attached to the center stem, and the size of the scales themselves is what gives the cone its shape. The center stem isn't cone shaped, it's fairly cylindrical.






So, I decided to try it a different way. I piped a bunch of chocolate scales and let them cool off. The trick to this, though, was that I heated the chocolate up way too much, in order to make it bloom when it cooled off. The bloom is the powdery look that chocolate gets when it hasn't been tempered correctly. For pine cones, I wanted a rough, woody look, so the bloom was what I wanted in this case.

























When they cooled off, I shaped some center stems from chocolate clay and started attaching the scales with melted chocolate. When they cooled off I turned them over and did the other side so that they were actually cone-shaped.




















After the cones were completely cooled off, I used some meringue powder dissolved in water to attach sugar to the ends of the scales for the sugared look.




















And this is the final product, with the chocolate pine needles also added. I like the way that these cones look, as opposed to the usual way that I see them done. Everyone at the reception site came over to look at them because they looked so realistic, and I was very happy with how the cake turned out.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Kara, these pinecones and needles are fabulous..I think you have invented an original method. I've seen gum paste and fondant pinecones that were just gouged to look like "leaves" - nothing like this. Question: what temperature did you heat the chocolate in order for the chocolate to "bloom"?? These do look realistic and you are to be commended for an original idea and execution. Judy jabreb@msn.com

Kara said...

Thanks! I haven't seen them done like this before, either.

I melted the chocolate in the microwave without trying to regulate it at all. It was pretty much guaranteed that it would bloom since I didn't make any effort to do it carefully. It was so hot when I took it out that I had to wrap the piping bag with a towel so that I didn't burn my hand.

Merriment Events said...

It looks so beautiful Kara! love it!

Loucinda said...

AWESOME!! What tip (if any) did you use to pipe the scales? I agree, you have an original here! ;-)

Kara said...

I just used a disposable piping bag so that I could re-heat it if I needed to. I cut the tip off with a pair of scissors, so there wasn't a tip in it. The scales are irregular anyway, so doing it that way worked well.

Jamie said...

Bravo! This is spectacular...what a way to go the extra mile to make the whole thing completely edible. I likey!

meena khalili said...

I am amazed! I wish we'd done pine cones rather than pomegranates now ;)

Kara said...

Oh, but the pomegranates were cute!

melody said...

These are wonderful!...thank u for posting how you did this..I'm gonna try to make them for an autumn cake I'm doing..I know I probably won't even come close to yors though! Too..beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Kara-
Thank you so much for posting this!! I've been trying to find a way to make pinecones that look realistic and this is it! I made a few last night for a cake that's due for a winter party and everyone was amazed at how real they looked. Thank you, thank you. As a side note, I used chocolate molding clay to add those last few scales that are found on the bottoms of pinecones that bend back in toward the center and it worked perfectly. Ahh, so excited.
Thanks again, Joyzlu

Anonymous said...

Bravo for the beautiful cones.

Joanne said...

Awesome pine cones, and a brilliant idea to take the chocolate out of temper. Thank you for sharing.

Kelley Prather said...

These are fantastic! Well done! And thank you a ton for sharing these with the masses:)

Anonymous said...

Wow, the pinecones are wonderful. How did you make the pinecone needles?

Kara said...

I made the needles out of chocolate too. Just pipe out some stripes onto waxed paper or parchmetn and let them set up, then CAREFULLY remove them from the paper!

Anonymous said...

Kara, fabulous pinecones!!
What type of chocolate do you use? I've read that chocolate chips won't set up hard enough to use, that they remain rather soft after heating.

Kara said...

I used semisweet chocolate chips, they work fine. They're actually more brittle than usual when they've been taken out of temper, so you'd probably have more of a problem with them breaking than with being too soft.

rosemary said...

I love you!!!

bricolage.ricette said...

It's very beautiful, I put a link to your post in my blog, and I copy the links of 2 fhotos of your cake.

Future Mrs, The Beard said...

They look fantastic!!! I will pay you to make some of these and ship them to me!!

DIY Mama said...

Move over, Martha Stewart! Intelligent approach to a beaUtiful cake idea!

I am headed for Portland next month so my daughter can give me moral support as I attempt to make these cones as a surprise for my other daughter's cake at a small December DIY wedding.

Q: Do you think I can freeze the cones (without the "snow") so I can make them ahead of time, since I desire the bloom anyway? Also, approximately what size cones did you end up with?

Thank you for sharing your wonderful ideas!

Kara Buntin said...

You can make them ahead of time and just let them sit at room temperature, they'll just keep getting bloomier, if that's a word. I think that freezing them might be bad since they tend to be on the brittle side anyway due to the heating of the chocolate. The ones that I made were around 3" long, but you can make them any size. You'd just have to adjust the size of the needle parts to make them look proportional to the length of the cones.